Sustainability has been top of mind among hoteliers in recent years as tourists are increasingly concerned about environmental issues. In fact, green practices adopted by hotels may soon become critical factors for travellers when choosing and booking accommodation to stay in.
Hospitality operations can cause significant impacts on the environment. Large hotels typically not only cater to individual guests but also have in-house services like bars, restaurants, and pools that use an immense amount of energy in order to provide top-notch guest experiences.
However, the customer mindset is changing, and it is time for hotel businesses to truly integrate sustainability into their operations in order to minimise these impacts on the environment.
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Why sustainability is important in the hospitality industry
Millennials are becoming the main revenue driver of the hospitality industry. They tend to be the ones who support environmentally friendly actions and value the organisations that pay great attention to environmental protection.
They are willing to spend extra money on the service providers that promote environmental initiatives and take responsibility to reduce their carbon footprint.
Another important reason why hoteliers should implement environmental and social initiatives is the emergence of disruptors like Couchsurfing and Airbnb. Losing their grip on young customers, traditional hotel businesses are forced to differentiate themselves from these online room-booking platforms. Promoting green practices – for e.g. switching to renewable energy and encouraging recycling - will not only save the planet but also boost your brand awareness and customer retention.
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Best practices for greener hospitality experiences
Solar power is highly encouraged for large hotel chains in order to mitigate the carbon footprint in their daily operations. A photovoltaic system also reduces the cost of energy significantly. The energy used for lighting, HVAC and heating can take up to 60 per cent of the total cost of energy consumption, which can be reduced substantially with a well-designed solar photovoltaic system.
Besides the solar panels, hoteliers can install tinted windows or digital thermostats to decrease the solar gain in the rooms and, hence, reduce the amount of energy used to maintain a comfortable room temperature.
Designing rooms that avoid solar insolation can cut down on energy use and save costs for cooling as well. Moreover, simple practices like switching to more energy-efficient light bulbs, installing sensors and meters to avoid wasting energy, and training staff to be conscious of energy use can contribute to major cost savings.
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With the current state of water usage, it is critical for us to start thinking about water conservation as the water tables are falling, underground aquifers are being depleted, lakes are shrinking, and wetlands are drying up.
According to research, tourists require more water than normal residents do on a per capita basis. Hoteliers can save up to 50% of their water usage with just simple conservation methods like aerating, pressure adjusting and replacing the appliances in laundry facilities, toilets and showers with water-efficient ones. One low-flow showerhead and aerated faucet can save $1.50 per room per month.
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One example of reducing water usage is at The Fairmont Royal York in Toronto. They save more than 476,000 litres of water per day using a water softener product that requires less water for laundry. Environmentally-friendly solutions are also used in the laundry, preventing chemicals from entering the water system. Additionally, putting small notes in the bathroom to remind customers to save water has also successfully spread awareness and saved more water actively.
The larger a hotel becomes, the higher the amount of waste it discharges into the environment. Studies have found that an average hotel produces in excess of one kilogram of waste per guest per day. Therefore, hoteliers must invest in a waste management system that deals with the amount of waste in the most sustainable way possible.
A large part of the daily routine’s waste can be recycled or reused under an appropriate waste management system. Recycling waste does not only yield environmental benefits, but it also provides the business with a shorter payback period and significant savings.
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Specifically, food waste takes up to more than 40% of a typical hotel’s solid waste. As almost all kinds of food waste can be composted into fertilizer and it is a much better way compared to just throwing the excess away. Hence, more and more hotels are applying this practice and educating employees about its uses and benefits.
In conclusion, why should hotels initiate green programs now? Simply because it is the right thing to do! In addition to satisfying changing customer demand and reducing energy costs, green programs for hospitality are crucial to the current state of the environment. Without a doubt, sustainability must be a major consideration in hotel operations.